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CBS Poll: Prayer Can Heal

Most Americans believe in the power of prayer to speed their medical recovery, and they want their doctors to join them in prayer if asked. A CBS This Morning poll shows more than three quarters of people pray for the health of others. But for a majority, this does not mean prayer should become a standard part of medicine.

When Patients Prescribe Prayer

A majority of people think prayer helps the healing process - and that prayer might be included in a doctor's healing duties. More than three quarters of Americans say personal prayer, or other spiritual and religious practices, can speed or help the medical treatment of people who are ill.

And 63 percent say doctors should join their patients in prayer to ask for help in curing an illness, if patients request it. However, a majority do not believe prayer should become standard medical practice. And younger people are much less likely than older folks to think prayer should be a standard part of care.



Does Prayer Help Healing?



Should Doctors Pray If Asked?



Should Prayer Be Standard?



Praying Often And Praying For Others
Sixty percent of Americans say they pray at least once a day. Two thirds say they pray for their own health, and 82 percent say they pray for the health of others. But praying for peopl they don't know is less common. Protestants are more likely to pray for people they don't know than Catholics are.

Who Believes In Doctors Praying?
The importance of religion in people's daily lives does not entirely account for their belief in the healing power of prayer or for their support of doctors praying. Even 59 percent of those who do not see themselves as especially religious agree doctors should pray with patients, if asked.

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But opinion on whether prayer should become standard practice is linked to education. Less than a quarter of college graduates think prayer should become standard, while 60 percent of those with less than a high school diploma think it should.

Healing Touch
Fewer people believe in the power of healing touch. Twenty-eight percent of Americans believe some people can heal with their touch. Twenty-two percent of those who say religion is extremely important in their lives say they have been personally healed through touch.

This poll was conducted among a nation-wide random sample of 825 adults, interviewed by telephone April 20-22, 1998. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the entire sample.

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